Category Archives: Vegetables

Asparagus, Kale, and Mushroom Brown Rice “Risotto”

veggie risotto blog

This past weekend was filled with a few more meals eaten out than usual. Meals of the slim-on-vegetables variety. While I enjoyed what I ate, I was ready for lighter fare. I opted to break out my brown rice, and load it up with all the fresh spring vegetables I could find. Which, after my Saturday trip to the farmer’s market, was quite a lot. I’m notorious for buying every pretty thing I see at the market, and then wondering how in the world I will manage to eat it all before it goes bad.

I don’t cook with brown rice all that often. I like it – especially short-grain – but frankly, I often feel like the 40-45 minute cook time is too long. Which is funny, because honestly, making dinner usually takes me at least that long, once you factor in the dishes I am doing beforehand (from our lunches taken to work) and all. If I simply throw the rice on the stove to cook first thing, then tend to the dishes and the rest of the prep for this dish, it honestly doesn’t take any “extra time” at all. Dinner still happened at “normal” time. It was well worth it.

I mean, check out that result. The brown rice is nutty and slightly chewy, and holds up perfectly to this ”risotto” style dish. With a ton of vegetables, and just a splash of cream to tie it together, it’s light and flavorful, and fresh, and plenty filling enough to be considered a main dish if you choose. And while it does have some dairy, it’s easily made dairy-free and/or vegan with a few simple swaps.

So go ahead – go gangbusters at the farmer’s market! Throw caution to the wind! Grab all the fresh green veggies that catch your eye. Throw them all together in this risotto, and you’ll be sure they’ll be enjoyed, rather than ending up sad and forgotten in the crisper. You won’t be sorry.

Print Recipe

Asparagus, Kale, and Mushroom Brown Rice “Risotto” (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

2 1/4 c stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 c short-grain brown rice

2 T butter or olive oil

4 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered (or cut into eighths if they are large)

1 green onion, minced

1 small head green garlic, minced (can use 2 cloves of regular garlic if you don’t have green garlic)

1 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 c white wine

8 oz asparagus spears, cut into 1/2-inch lengths

8 oz frozen peas, thawed

1 c chopped fresh kale (I used Red Russian, but you can use any variety)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T butter or olive oil

1 T cream (can use almond, soy, or coconut milk for vegan)

2-3 T shaved parmesan (omit for vegan)

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add rice and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add butter/olive and allow to heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Add the green onion, garlic, and thyme leaves and sauté an additional minute or until fragrant. Add the white wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. Add the asparagus, peas, and kale and sauté for a minute or until the asparagus is bright green and heated through.

Add the rice and stir in, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Finally, stir in the butter/olive oil and cream. Serve, topped with parmesan and fresh parsley.

Serves 4.

 

Grilled Yellow Summer Squash with Sweet Basil and Feta

grilled yellow squash 2

Last Saturday, in case you missed my flurry of posts about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in The Home Depot’s Dallas Garden Party.

It was a great event for people new to gardening, grilling, or just wanting to get some additional tips and tricks to make their garden-to-table experience more successful. Mary Katherine Green of the Gardenieres was there, showing gardeners how to pot fresh herbs and answering all your garden questions.

Cassie Freeman of Hi Sugar Plum was hosting, and talked to all sorts of people, helping them through the party, decorating pots, taking photos, and learning. There were representatives from Southern Living that showed amazing decorating tips (I need them to come to my house and show me a few things!), someone from Fiskars showing some cool garden tools, and an expert helping me (and interested grillers) understand all the details of the Weber grill.

collage garden party

After all, I was using it to teach many happy eaters learn how to grill with their garden vegetables and herbs as they nibbled on samples of Chicken Yakatori, Grilled Carrots, and my recipe I developed just for this event – Grilled Yellow Squash with Basil and Feta.

garden collage

It was a fun event filled with activity, and I had the opportunity to interact with some wonderful people. The caterers that executed the dishes, including mine, were talented and made me look amazing. I was most thankful for them.

An added bonus? I found out last week that I was to be taped in an interview with Jocelyn White of Designing DFW for an upcoming episode to air in May! So before the Garden Party, we talked about my recipe and the event. It’s my first TV experience, and I can’t wait to see it air. It was exciting and a bit nerve-wracking all at once!

I loved developing the recipe for this event. I’ve been more than ready to break out my grill all winter, and have already shared a grilled asparagus dish. And the summer isn’t even here yet, folks! The grill will certainly be earning its keep around here this season. It’s just so simple for me to grill many of our meals. There’s fewer dishes, it’s fast, and the flavor created by grilling is pretty awesome.

Here in the coming months, summer squash and zucchini will be everywhere. Gardens will be overrun. People will be making casseroles and breads galore. This is a simple, fresh, easy way to prepare squash that’s a little different than the norm. A few ingredients are whisked together to make a vinaigrette. The squash is tossed in the dressing, grilled, and then topped with basil and feta. The combination of flavors is an awesome mix of freshness from the basil, that lovely grill factor, a bit of tang from the mustard and lemon, and a salty note from the feta. It’s literally something you can cook in about 5 minutes, but can wow your guests. Even if those guests are just a few hungry teenagers or your spouse.

Print Recipe

Grilled Yellow Summer Squash with Sweet Basil and Feta, created for The Home Depot Garden Party (gluten-free)

 

4 small-to-medium sized yellow summer squash

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh sweet basil

 

Preheat grill for medium-high heat.

To make the dressing, in a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Slice the squash lengthwise in half, and then lengthwise in half again. Place the slices of squash in the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.

Remove squash from the dressing and grill over direct heat for a minute or two on each side or until grill marks appear and until the squash is just tender.

Remove and place on a plate. Drizzle remaining dressing over the squash. Season with additional salt and pepper as necessary, and sprinkle with feta and chopped basil.

Serve immediately.

 

Serves 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Asparagus with Feta, Almonds and Basil

grilled asparagus blog

Sometimes, you need something that really brings the spring feeling to your plate. For me, asparagus is that “something”. Asparagus means winter is over. That the green things are growing again, and that I can expand my fresh vegetable intake beyond root vegetables, winter squash and cabbage. The beginning of spring vegetables, to me, is the greatest time, because it speaks of all the delicious, fresh things to come.

Now, I feel somewhat guilty saying this, but I’m ready for the winter to be over. It’s been cold even down here in Texas (and I certainly know that it doesn’t even compare to what those of you in the north have endured!), and for longer than usual. I’m embracing spring. I’m ready for rain, thunderstorms, and green, growing things. For now, I’ve temporarily forgotten that with springtime comes our barrage of gigantic Texas insects, followed by all-too-warm temperatures. Come August, when it’s 100 degrees for days on end here, I’ll be wishing for the cold once again. But right now, I’m ready for the warmth.

So in order to encourage spring to come along, I grabbed some asparagus and uncovered my grill. It’s finally light enough in the evening that I can grill without needing a flashlight. (Come on, tell me I’m not the only one that’s done that!) Truth be told, I love grilling. It’s quick and easy, and there’s one less dish to wash when you’re done. It also imparts a lovely flavor to just about anything.

In this case, a brief visit to the grill makes this asparagus tender and full of flavor. Toss it with some lemon juice, almonds, feta (omit for dairy-free/vegan), and basil, and suddenly, you’ve taken an already-fresh flavor and completely kicked it up a few notches. It’s bright, fresh, and definitely is that “something” that brings spring to your table.

It really only takes a few minutes to make, and is totally worth every moment. I enjoyed this as a side dish on a mundane weeknight, but it’s certainly dressy enough for company, or even for a holiday dinner – Easter or Passover Seder (served with a vegetarian main or fish dish), perhaps?

Print Recipe

Grilled Asparagus with Feta, Almonds and Basil (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

2 t extra virgin olive oil

1 t lemon zest

1 t lemon juice

1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed

Salt and pepper to taste

2 T crumbled feta cheese (omit for dairy-free/vegan)

2 T sliced almonds

1 T chopped fresh basil

Preheat grill to medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour over the asparagus, and season with salt and pepper.

When grill is hot, place asparagus in a single layer over direct heat on the grill. Close the lid and grill for a minute or two, and move so that the other side of the asparagus spears touch the grill. Continue to grill just until tender (the time may vary depending on the thickness of your spears and heat of the grill). Remove immediately. Toss asparagus spears with feta, almonds, and fresh basil and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Pickled Carrots and Jalapeños

pickled carrots and jalapenos

A few weeks ago, my parents took me to lunch at this little hole-in-the-wall taco shop. They’ve been visiting there for ages, and have always enjoyed the food. It’s perhaps slightly more than a hole-in-the-wall, truthfully – it’s a combination taco shop plus small Hispanic grocery and carnicería. The building is run-down, but you can tell they keep things clean. Finally, I got to experience these tacos that my Dad has been raving about for what seems like an eternity.

Truth be told, the tacos were good. Not the best I’ve ever had, but definitely worth revisiting. I enjoyed barbacoa and lengua tacos and was a happy camper. But the real prize wasn’t even something you paid additional for. Alongside your order, they would bring you a bowl of these pickled carrots and jalapeños. We asked for extra, and noshed on these slightly sweet, subtly spicy condiments both before and during our meal. They provided the perfect brightness to offset the richness of my barbacoa and were deliciously addictive. My Dad mentioned that he’d made unsuccessful attempts to get the recipe out of the lady that makes these delicious treats. Apparently that recipe was top secret.

So, turning to me, he encouraged me to take the leftover pickles home. Why? He wanted to see if I could reverse engineer the recipe. It was a challenge I was willing to take.

The pickles were simple, but reverse engineering even a few simple spices takes careful consideration. I wasn’t 100% sure on ratios, but I took a stab at it. What resulted was quite close and equally as tasty. I could definitely enjoy having these in my refrigerator, ready to accompany our next taco night (which is practically a weekly event around here).

Of course, this will mean I need to make more. I sent home this jar to my Dad, who was all-too-happy to take it off my hands.

Print Recipe

Pickled Carrots and Jalapeños (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, vegan)

3 fresh jalapeños

5 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal, about 1 inch thick

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/2 small white onion, sliced

2 bay leaves

10 black peppercorns

10 whole coriander seeds

1 1/4 c white vinegar

1/4 c apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 c filtered water

1 1/2 T kosher or pickling salt

1 T granulated sugar

Place the jalapeños, carrots, garlic, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, and coriander seeds in a quart-sized glass jar or container. Bring the vinegars, water, salt and sugar to a boil. Pour over vegetables until covered. Allow to cool to room temperature and place lid on jar. Refrigerate 1-2 weeks or until desired level of pickling is achieved.

Keeps about a month, maybe longer, although I can’t imagine you’ll make it last that long.

 

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms, Plus Videos For Veggie Success!

roasted balsamic mushrooms

You’ve made a decision. You want to eat more vegetables. But after eating salads for a few weeks, you’re sick and tired of the same old thing. You want to try a new vegetable, so you browse the produce aisle, and you grab something different. Some spinach. Cabbage. Maybe Brussels sprouts, or some crimini mushrooms. You’ve told yourself “I’m going to cook this!” and you put it in your basket. It goes home with you, and you stick it in the crisper drawer in the fridge.

And there it sits. And sits.

Aaaaand sits.

See, you had the best of intentions. You really did. But that new vegetable? Frankly, it’s intimidating. Outside of the norm. You just don’t know what to do with it! So it remains in the fridge, alone and forgotten, until it has turned into a mushy, slimy mess in its cellophane bag. After a time, you guiltily throw it away, and resolve to do better next time.

Sound familiar? An alternate version of the story involves you browsing the produce aisle, but feeling so overwhelmed by the intimidation (“I don’t know how to cook any of this stuff!”) that you ultimately come home with a baking potato and a bag of salad for the third week in a row.

I’ve been there. I understand. When we’ve already expended so much energy throughout the day focusing on getting kids ready for school, working, dealing with emergencies, ungrateful bosses, traffic, and less-than-ideal weather, we just can’t deal with the “new vegetable” thing. Even if our heart is in the right place.

It just seems so…hard.

That was the premise for the recent string of YouTube videos I’ve been sharing lately. Because I know that for many of us, cooking from scratch alone is uncharted territory, and even if we know how to make a few things, we are often hesitant or just don’t have the energy to do something that seems daunting. A new vegetable, or any food, really, often seems daunting! I’m hoping that through these videos, that we can together change that thought process. Because honestly, a vegetable shouldn’t be so scary, right?

Each of these videos (feel free to browse around and subscribe to my YouTube channel) showcases a simple way to prepare a fresh vegetable using very few ingredients, and 5 minutes of preparation time, max. The videos aren’t super-fancy; my kitchen isn’t perfect and I’m often in comfortable clothes. It’s not perfectly polished. My dogs make cameo appearances sometimes, as they’re often hoping I’ll drop something tasty on the floor. Moral of the story is: This stuff is totally down-to-earth and doable. Even at the end of a long day. I promise!

This week, I’m sharing one of my favorite ways to make roasted mushrooms. These mushrooms I’ve shared before a few years ago, but I come back to them time and again. After all, they’re easy. You can toss mushrooms with some herbs and garlic, and when you’re ready, throw them in the oven. Then, 20 minutes later, you take them out. The end. Finito. That’s all you have to do.

But in case you don’t believe me, you can watch the video and see for yourself.

See? That’s not so bad, right? Ready to make them for yourself? Here’s the recipe!

Print Recipe

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms (gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, sugar-free)

1 lb fresh crimini mushrooms

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ c extra virgin olive oil

2 T balsamic vinegar

1 t fresh thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ c fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Toss the mushrooms with the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast until the mushrooms are juicy – about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and toss with the parsley while still warm.

(hint: to streamline your meal, you can prepare this recipe up to the point where you would put it in the oven, and instead refrigerate for a few hours. Then, when it’s time, just pop in the oven as directed.)

Serves 4.

 

 

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

sauteed spinach

Looking for a quick-and-easy way to get something green on your plate for dinner tonight?

How about spinach?

Gone are those days, when I was growing up, where Mom would open a can of spinach, and we would eat it, pretending we would grow big and strong just like Popeye. I can’t even remember the last time I ate canned spinach, honestly. It’s been a long time. I much prefer fresh when I can get it, frozen when I can’t. It’s a taste preference – canned seems mushy and salty to me nowadays.

Cooking from fresh, however, doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. With just a few ingredients and less than 5 minutes, you can have delicious sautéed spinach with garlic that is a million times tastier than the canned variety. The fresh flavors of the spinach and garlic really shine, and the spinach is tender and bright.

Want to see just how easy it is? Check out my simple instructional video – and while you’re at it, subscribe to my YouTube channel to see even more easy veggie ideas.

So while your main dish is roasting in the oven, pull out a skillet and sauté some spinach! You’ll be happy you did.

Print Recipe

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic (gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

1 T coconut oil (or oil of choice – olive oil or butter works well here)

1 clove garlic, minced

8 oz spinach leaves, rinsed well and drained (let any residual water cling to the leaves), torn into smallish pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat, swirling around to coat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add spinach leaves and stir to coat. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for a minute or two, or until leaves have turned bright green and have just started to wilt. Remove the lid and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 2-4.

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts

pan seared brussels sprouts

A few weeks back, I shared in the Eating the Food group that I was having pan-seared Brussels Sprouts along with some eggs for breakfast. This started a conversation not only about Brussels Sprouts (and their deliciousness, of course) but also about getting more vegetables into your breakfast. I must confess: I don’t always get veggies in first thing in the morning. I do enjoy them (especially with eggs), but it just doesn’t always happen. Of course, that realization got me thinking and inspired this post about getting more vegetables into your day.

So I’ve been motivated once more to be sure I’m giving vegetables their due. While I have no issues in the spring and summer, when I go to the farmer’s market and come home with more vegetables than any normal human can possibly consume in a week, (What can I say? They all look SO GOOD and I get starry-eyed and have to bring them all home with me.) winter-time makes vegetable consumption more difficult. This is when I focus on those veggies that are longer storage varieties, such as root vegetables, winter squash, cabbage, and of course, Brussels Sprouts, so they still taste fresh. I also try my hardest to make these veggies easy to make, so I’ll be more likely to consume them even on busy weeknights.

Pan-searing is one such way to accomplish that “easy-to-make” goal. It only takes a few minutes and really highlights the natural sweetness of the Brussels Sprouts, thanks to the caramelization that happens in the pan. They’re delicious alongside meatloaf and mashed potatoes, pork chops, or even with eggs at breakfast. Even if you’ve previously shunned Brussels Sprouts, I encourage you to revisit them with this method. You might just find them not only tolerable, but they could become your new favorite veggie!

For step-by-step instruction, check out my “how-to” video on YouTube for these Brussels Sprouts (and feel free to subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode!):

Print Recipe

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts (gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

1 1/2 T coconut oil

1 lb Brussels Sprouts, sliced roughly into 1/4 inch thick slices

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium heat. Add coconut oil and allow to melt and coat pan. Spread out sliced Brussels Sprouts into a single layer in the skillet. Allow to sear without moving for about a minute, or until the sprouts start to brown. Stir around to flip the sprouts and brown the other side for another minute or so. Continue to stir every so often, spreading the sprouts back out, until they are browned on edges and just tender throughout. (Total cooking time is about 5 minutes.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Roasted Rosemary Carrots

roasted carrots with rosemary

I’ve got another super-easy vegetable solution for you this week, complete with a super-easy video showing you just now super-easy it is to make.

Doesn’t that sound super-GREAT?

Okay, maybe I’m getting a tad over-excited. After all, we’re talking about carrots here, right? But these carrots, in my opinion, are worth getting excited about. They take only a few minutes to prepare, and after a little time hanging out in the oven, they emerge with caramelized edges and sweet, carrot-y goodness that can please any palate. Who wouldn’t get excited about that?

Check out the video (and feel free to subscribe, so you can be notified as soon as I post new videos to YouTube). You’ll even get to see my dogs and their affinity for carrots. They tend to always be nearby if I am cutting up carrots – it’s by far their favorite vegetable.

Print Recipe

Roasted Rosemary Carrots (gluten-free, vegan)

5-6 large carrots, peeled if desired

1 T rosemary needles, chopped

1/4 – 1/2 t kosher salt, or to taste

1 1/2 – 2 T coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces (I cut mine about 3/4 inch thick). Toss carrots with rosemary, salt, and coconut oil until evenly coated. Spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning over about halfway through the baking time, until the carrots are browned and tender. Remove from oven and serve.

Serves 2-3.

Ways To Incorporate More Vegetables Into Your Day

vegetable collage

The other day on The Balanced Platter I encouraged you to say “yes” to more fruits and vegetables. Many of us are pretty good at eating fruit. It’s sweet, it’s generally ready-to-eat with little or no preparation, and it’s convenient. You can just grab a banana and walk out the door. An apple makes an excellent afternoon snack. And I’ve yet to find a kid that doesn’t like some kind of fruit. But vegetables? That’s a bit harder.

Incorporating vegetables into your diet can be done, and with delicious results. Vegetables don’t have to be the most-hated part of the meal, something to moan and groan about, or an afterthought. It just takes a bit of rethinking!

Start your day with a veggie! It seems most people don’t think about vegetables during breakfast. This is where green smoothies have gotten such a positive following – sneaking in a bit of spinach into a fruit-filled, creamy beverage seems an easy way to add them. But vegetables at breakfast doesn’t have to stop there. How about adding a squash hash to your morning? Or a few spoonfuls of salsa to top your eggs? Throw some greens into a quiche, or zucchini into a frittata for a delicious and healthy addition. And as always, a veggie-packed omelet is a great way to get a serving of vegetables in before noon.

Step outside the salad. A salad certainly is a simple and easy way to ensure you get vegetables at lunch. But if you’re anything like me, the same salad can get old day in and day out, so I try to change it up a bit. Some days, a kale salad is just the thing. In summer, cucumber salads are refreshing. But there’s more than just salads out there. Vegetables can also make excellent dips, which are great for lunch! How about green pea hummus or fire-roasted tomato almond dip, or even chipotle butternut dip? And when the weather is chilly, soup is a great way to add more veggies. Celeriac soup, cabbage soup, or curried acorn squash soup are just a few of my favorites.

Get creative and don’t be afraid to try new vegetables! Dinner is when many of us make acquaintance with a vegetable. However, we often fall into a rut of only preparing a few vegetables, leaving so many other good ones in the dust (or worse, in the vegetable crisper, to wilt). This is when you can let your vegetable creativity shine. Grab a new-to-you veggie and learn to cook something delicious! Try collard greens in a new way – with sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. Bok choy is delicious and easy to make with sesame seeds and shiitake mushrooms. Bacon or prosciutto makes every veggie better – these Brussels sprouts are a great example. I personally love using unique spices to change up my dinner vegetable routine, as I did with these curried kabocha squash wedges.

What if you have picky eaters? Sometimes, you can even sneak veggies into a meal without anyone realizing, such as with my eggplant-tahini pasta sauce or even in smaller amounts in a meatloaf (a meal ALL of my picky eaters will eat!). Make a simple mash from different veggies, such as turnips and rutabagas. Go totally hard-core with your vegetable-sneaking, and make this secret ingredient chocolate cake. You can also try to woo them with vibrant colors – my stepdaughter actually likes beets, and I won her over with their gorgeous hue.

What are some of your favorite vegetables to eat? How do you successfully incorporate more vegetables into your day?

Habanero Hot Sauce

habanero hot sauce

Early in the spring, I planted several pepper plants – one bell pepper, one jalapeno, and one habanero. Unfortunately, cucumber-pocalypse happened, and the cucumbers dwarfed these plants. You couldn’t even see them. I thought my pepper season was a flop. But when the cucumbers gave up the ghost, and I pulled up the vines, the plants were still there. So I opted to nurture them a bit and try for a fall season full of peppers.

It wasn’t a bad season, in spite of everything. I had a good handful of bell peppers, a couple dozen jalapenos, and a couple dozen habaneros.

peppers and eggplant

Well, only a few ripe habaneros, truthfully. We had a cold snap a few weeks ago, and even though I covered my plants, the pepper plant didn’t survive, so I pulled a bunch of green habaneros. They actually ripened on the counter, much to my happiness.

Except then, I had to come up with something to do with over 2 dozen habanero peppers.

Hot sauce was the answer!

I love a good hot sauce. I’m a big believer in Sriracha and Slap Ya Mama, but would never hesitate to try a new sauce. A few drops of a good sauce can make tamales sing, turn my boring breakfast of hard-boiled eggs into a delight, and can turn a bowl of chili into my favorite meal ever. This sauce can do all of these things.

Caution: it’s not for the timid. Habaneros definitely pack a punch. Just a few drops will do. But it’s more than just searing heat…there’s a subtly sweet background, thanks to some carrot and a touch of brown rice syrup. The sweetness compliments the peppery heat of the habanero perfectly. I can’t wait to use it on everything imaginable. I may or may not be planning my meals for next week around the ability to apply this stuff.

Of course, it’s great as a homemade, edible gift as well. The holidays are coming up, and sometimes a small, homemade gift can mean a lot. I am a fan of making edible gifts, and this is definitely something you could make ahead of time, pour into a cute bottle, and give to your favorite chili-head. I happen to have one of those in my family. If I don’t eat it all myself, there might just be a bottle in this person’s future. Or maybe I just need more habaneros. We shall see.

Print Recipe

Habanero Hot Sauce (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

About 20 habanero peppers

4 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 c distilled white vinegar

1/2 c water

1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 c lemon juice

1 t kosher salt

1 t smoked paprika

2 t brown rice syrup

Before you start to handle the habaneros, please be cautious. These are pretty hot. Wear gloves when touching the peppers, or you will regret it, as the hot oils will seep into your hands. If they don’t burn your hands, then when you touch more sensitive areas (your lips, tongue, eyes, etc.) it will burn, and that’s no joke.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start by cutting each pepper in half, removing the stem, and scraping out the inside and the seeds. Cut each garlic clove into 3-4 pieces. Place in a single layer on a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and roast for about 20 minutes or until brown on top. Keep an eye on them, as you don’t want them to burn. (Another note: you may want to open up a window, as this process can get pretty fragrant. I was sneezing just a bit.)

While the peppers and garlic are roasting, place the water, vinegar and carrot in a small saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the carrot is soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Place the peppers, garlic, carrots and vinegar in a blender, along with lemon juice, salt, smoked paprika, and the brown rice syrup. Blend, scraping down the sides as needed, until completely smooth. If it’s too thick, then water and vinegar, alternating a few tablespoons at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

Taste the sauce (be careful, just a few drops would be enough!) and adjust your seasonings as needed.

Store sauce in a glass jar or bottle, refrigerated, for several weeks.